Monday, April 23, 2007

George Bush Receives a Purple Heart

Cove veteran presents Purple Heart to President Bush

By Joyce May

The Cove Herald

WASHINGTON – Bill and Georgia Thomas reported they were elated Monday when they met in the Oval Office with President George W. Bush to present him with a Purple Heart."We were just absolutely bowled over. Without reservation, it was one of the highlights of our life. He was such a gracious host," Thomas said. "It was just an incredible, incredible experience."

The couple was able to meet with President Bush for about 20 minutes to present him with one of three Purple Hearts that Bill Thomas received during his service in Vietnam."He said he didn't feel like he had earned it," Thomas said, noting the president looked thinner in person than on television.

The Thomases also were able to meet Barney, the president's Scottish terrier, and tour the White House Rose Garden.

Thomas said he and his wife came up with the unprecedented idea to present the president with the Purple Heart over breakfast one morning a few months ago as they discussed the verbal attacks, both foreign and domestic, the commander in chief has withstood during his time in office."We feel like emotional wounds and scars are as hard to carry as physical wounds," Thomas said.

The medal was awarded to Thomas on Dec. 18, 1965, following injuries he sustained while serving in heavy combat with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam.

Thomas said the Purple Heart he presented the president has special meaning to him because the injury he suffered to earn it occurred just after a friend, Richard Peterson, lost his life attempting to save him."The hand grenade came in, and I didn't see it. Before diving, which he should have ... he pushed me down and the delay cost him his life," Thomas recalled. "Shortly after that, I was laying in position ... and took a .50-caliber round that shattered my shoulder blade and virtually took out my right lung."

Thomas said he drew up a citation and he and his wife signed it before dropping it and the medal off with Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, to forward to President Bush.Carter later called Thomas to inform him that the president was very moved by the gesture and would like the couple to present it in person."

John Carter was so helpful and so gracious," Thomas said, noting that he and his wife were also able to have dinner with the congressman and his wife, Erica.Thomas took a copy of the original citation showing the origin of the actual medal and presented it as a companion piece with the citation he drew up for the president.

He has drawn criticism from some locals who have learned of his actions, Thomas said. Nevertheless, he said he earned the Purple Heart and it is his to do with it as he sees fit."I feel the President deserved one," he said. "The bottom line is, I paid for these Purple Hearts with my blood."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Something about Mondays in April

Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats.

Monday, April 16, 2007

My Allen baby kittenzez

Beth LaCrosse

He came into my life on June 2, 1995. My landlord’s kids came up to my apartment screaming Queenie had kittens and that they were under the couch and could I please come get them out. There were four kittens, the first one I pulled out was a grey and white boy kitty, the next two were both brown tabby girl kitties. The very last kitten was a silver tabby boy kitty. When I saw him, I told my landlady that “I want that silver kitty”. The kids named the grey/white kitty Kingie, and the two female tabby cats were named Yvette and Naomi. The silver tabby was named Allen. When I saw Allen, I knew he was mine. Allen grew up in a household with a 2 year old toddler, and was carried around by his tail a lot.

Allen was “touched” much like me. He was very aggressive and bit me several times, landing me in the hospital once and in the ER twice. I still loved him. The last time he bit me, he ended up in “kitty jail” for ten days. So I took him to the vet and asked what would help Allen calm down. The vet said that he needed “kitty attitude adjustment shots”. Allen got two shots over a 4 month period. He seemed to calm down a lot, especially after the second “attitude adjustment” shot. In fact, after the second shot, he was very subdued. Two days later, I found a half eaten pill that was an antipsychotic drug. Apparently the combination of the “attitude adjustment” shot and the Neurontin worked very well together. Allen was a happier and calmer kitty, and did not need any more of the shots.

Allen is truly my kitty. We are very close and he likes me to hold him. He is very interested in what I do on the computer, and likes to sit on my paper work and on the computer keyboard when I am working. He is very demanding about being held and petted. I really feel good when I hold him and pet him. He is my “Allen baby kittenzez” and we are inseparable. When I travel, he gets very angry and when I get back home he is aloof until I apologize and give him some kitty treats. Allen and I are inseparable. He is my best friend and of all of the kitties I have had, he is the very best one I have ever had. Allen likes to go out for walks in the back yard and graze on the grass. I put him in a halter and on a leash. He is very good at walking on the leash. I have 3 other cats and one service dog. Allen is truly the “alpha cat” and “alpha dog” since my dog Ragz defers to him. Maybe a better term would be “alpha pet”.

I have never had such a close connection with any other cat, or dog for that matter. I love Allen more than I have loved any one else, be it a dog, cat, or person. Allen and I are always in tune with each other. He knows when I a sad and need reassurance and always comes to sit in my lap. When I pet him, he purrs and we talk with each other and blink our eyes. I really think we communicate well. I think that god gave me Allen because he is such a blessing in my life.

That is not to say I don’t love my other kitties and my service dog. They all have their different qualities. Boone, is a 3 year old kitten, he is black with a white tuxedo. He is a big kitty, not fat, just big boned. I adopted him from some kids who had come by my friend’s house while I was visiting her. The next kitty is about 1 ½ years old. Her name is Nikita and she is a feral cat, and is very skittish. She came and was sitting on my doorstep one day when I came home. A few days later, a neighbor asked if they could adopt her. So I gave her to them. Three days later, she is back on my doorstop. I then realized that god really wanted me to have her. She is a small black longhaired kitty. She is very sweet and very pretty. She is tiny for her age. The last cat I rescued was Cosmo. She was feral and I started to feed her. After about two weeks, I was finally able to pick her up and bring her inside. She is very wary, but she also likes to be petted and I think she had been previously a house cat.

Finally, I have a service dog, Ragz. He really means a lot to me. Again, like with Allen, it was love a first sight. I had been teaching a class on families who have relatives with mental illness and mentioned that I was looking for a service dog. One of the students there said that he rescued dogs and had several I could choose from. He brought two dogs for me to meet, one was called Wiggles, and the other was Ragamuffin. When I saw Ragamuffin I knew he was the one for me. I renamed him Ragz. He was two years old. I trained him myself. He is a very good service dog. Everybody comments on how well he behaves. I take him everywhere, planes, trains, automobiles, busses, ferries, you name it. When we fly, I get a bulkhead window and put down a blanket for him to lie on. He stays there until we get there. We have flown as far away as Washington D. C., which is quite a long trip coming from Alaska.
This is why I love my animals.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Holy Cow, We're Back

I know, I know. It's been a while. We have had a lot going on. I do thank you for being patient while we searched our cobweb filled minds for some creativity. Not sure if I have found any yet, but it's late and I really can't sleep well, so I'm gonna give it a go.

We had just the most incredible dinner to celebrate this judeo christian holiday(?) Good food, and lots of it along with good company always make for good times, good times. (lol). Ham, tater salad, Mbeans and a cake Satan would be jealous of. Man that was a good cake. Mom made the cake and it was chocolate covered, chocolate filled, dipped in chocolate with chocolate on it. Good cake. I'm gona go have some right now.....

Ok, good cake.

Spring break has been upon us and with that comes the duty. Having to watch the nephews for 2 weeks while the Momlady has to work. I don't mind haveing to watch them, as long as they're asleep, which never happens. I call them 'The Apocolypse" and his little brother 'Nuclear Holocaust". No kidding. Just send these two to Iraq, the "Global Struggle Against Islamic Extreemism", more commonly refered to as The War Against Terror, or T.W.A.T for short, would be over in no time.

More cake. Alright, my hypoglycemia just kicked in high gear. This is gonna do it for this post. I will have some contributed articles posted throughout the week, keep checking back. Be sure to bookmark this page and leave a comment. Remember, boys and girls, keep those cards and letters coming.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Standing On MY Own

by Beth LaCrosse

When I was young, I started to play musical instruments. I now know how to play the cello, the piano, the trombone and the bass guitar. Music makes me happy. It’s something like meditation, and listening to my favorite music and playing along with my bass is very soothing. I have many happy memories but there are a few things that did bother me. some encouraged me to play instruments, yet never did attend any of my concerts. This was very sad until I realized that they may not have been that important in my life. This was quite a revelation for me. I am much happier now that I realize that I am a good person, and play music very well. I now know that I am the most important person in my life.

I have expanded my life to be involved as an advocate for persons who are living with a mental illness. I have been very active in NAMI (national alliance on mental illness) since 1996, and served as secretary, vice president and president of NAMI Alaska. I was President of NAMI Alaska for 5 ½ years. I have also served on a number of statewide boards, councils, committees and governing bodies, starting in 1995. These include the State Rehabilitation Council, the Governor’s Committee, The Alaska Mental Health Board, and the Governing Body for the Alaska Psychiatric Institute. I currently serve on the Disability Law Center of Alaska, the Mental Health Rights Advisory Council and am the chair of the Restraint and Seclusion Committee for the MHRAC. I have received many awards and recognition for my work as an advocate, and like music, I find advocacy work rewarding. As a person who suffers from mental illness, (schizo-affective disorder, PTSD, and others) I know first hand what it is like to be mentally ill.

I believe that my mental illness started when I was really young. I personally think that someone close to me had a lot to do with my illness. He was a very angry person who picked on people weaker than he was. In other words, he was a bully, and actually enjoyed bullying others. I was not the only one who he bullied, others, were also subjected to abuse from him. I think that we have all become better persons despite being bullied. It has made us all better people because we have risen up and removed him from our lives. I have become stronger and more self-confident, and believe in myself. My recovery has been a long, slow and difficult journey, one filled with hazards, but results in a greater awareness of life, a greater acceptance of myself, more positive, more real and that shows me that recovery is not only possible, but probable as well. One of my favorite quotes is “there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is not that of an oncoming train”.

What is mental illness and how does society react?

Research has shown that people who experience a mental illness have a different life experience than those who do not have a mental illness. Deficits in income, self-worth and social interaction are due, in part to the effects of stigma that surrounds mental illness. Research indicates that attitudes about people with mental illness by members of the general population have been shown to be negative. This creates “underlying negative attitudes towards persons with mental health problems” found among all socioeconomic groups surveyed.
Major factors towards achieving acceptance include eliminating the shrouds of stigma and discrimination towards “mental illness” and the “mentally ill”. Persons who are living with mental illness experience these negative attitudes and respond by having negative feelings including feelings of shame, fear, isolation and experience themselves as objects of ridicule. Culturally negative stereotypes of mental illness are fueled by selective reporting, and the portrayal of people with mental illness in entertainment, and in many other everyday life situations as “dangerous” and ”violent”. People with mental illness, acting on these internalized beliefs, expect to be devalued and discriminated against. Self-devaluation leads to “expectation of rejection”. This in turn causes people with mental illness to withdrawal and isolate from social and employment settings out of fear of rejection. They internalize these negative stereotypes learned through socialization, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that results in unemployment and lower income.

In order to help combat the stigma and discrimination against “mental illness” and the “mentally ill”, I have been giving presentations since 1999 using the program “In Our Own Voice: Living with Mental Illness” (IOOV:LWMI), formally known as “Living with Schizophrenia”. This educational program was originally produced by NAMI National with a grant from Eli Lilly in the mid 1990’s. This program helps to train different treatments of these illnesses, including both traditional treatment as well as the more non-traditional approaches to recovery. Topics covered in the IOOV:LWMI presentation are “dark days”, “acceptance” “treatment”, “coping skills” and “successes hopes and dreams”.

I have been conducting a study using the In Our Own Voice: Living With Mental Illness (IOOV:LWMI) program to evaluate attitudes towards persons with a mental illness. I am using an attitudinal survey form given before and after the presentation to look at attitudinal changes that can result from attending the IOOV presentation. Thus far, results indicate that there is a significant improvement of peoples’ attitudes towards persons with brain disorders as a direct effect of attending this valuable educational presentation.

It is our hope that through continuing education, we can help change people’s attitudes towards mental health consumers to be more positive and accepting. We believe that educational presentations like the IOOV program is a key component in de-stigmatizing mental illness by helping to educate folks about the truths of mental illness and light the way to recovery for all.

The presentation will focus on different brain disorders, their symptoms, biological correlates of, and treatment options for persons living with a psychiatric disability, as well as what it takes to be “in recovery” from a mental illness. The In Our Own Voice presentation is an interactive approach which invites a lively discussion. The presentation is also helpful in educating the general public, legislators, and mental health professionals by presenting the true facts about mental illness helping to reduce the shroud of stigma and discrimination that surround it and to dispel the myths about “mental illness” and the “mentally ill”. We hope that by education, we can change people’s attitudes about persons living with mental illness and their family and friends, as well as help foster growth in one’s personal recovery.

It is vitally important to continue the work of training mental health consumers to deliver a presentation with first hand factual knowledge regarding what it is like to live with a mental illness. Topics covered in this program include the individuals with brain disorders to give these presentations to help fight the shroud of stigma and discrimination that has plagued “mental illness” and the “mentally ill” for centuries. On a more personal level, this program fosters hope and promotes recovery for folks living with a psychiatric disability.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Fighting for Peace is like Fucking for Virginity."

Ian Herron

"Only after the last tree has been cut down,only after the last river has been poisoned,only after the last fish has been caught.only then will you find that money cannot be eaten"

- Attributed to, though possibly not spoken by, Chief Seattle, circa 19th century.

Whether or not you believe that Chief Seattle actually spoke these words (some believe them to have been coined/written by Ted Perry, screenwriter of 'Home', a 1972 film about ecology), one cannot afford to miss the overwhelming truth of the statement. All too often, the American people specifically - and almost all humans in general - choose to indulge their comforts at the expense of the ecological balancing act, known simply to us as 'Nature'. In the year 1992, 2.3 TRILLION GALLONS of untreated waste water was deposited into the coastal waters of the Untied States alone. In that same year, the US accounted for approximately 23 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions in the world!
Let us not forget that while we are busy poisoning EVERYONE'S air, we are even busier destroying some of the best known technology for dealing with the huge amounts of extra carbon dioxide released into the air. I wonder how many acres of tropical rain forest were destroyed to make room for the coffee that I’m drinking right now? What about for marijuana, or cocaine? How many acres are burned or slashed to make grazing room for fast-food beef every year? How many were cut down to be sold as commodities for hard currency, to pay the interest on loans from RICH NATIONS and BANKS, meant to help third world countries 'develop'?
Everywhere you look, you can find waste. Whether it is wasted heat in assembly or fabrication, by-products from the burning of carbon based fossil fuels, or the two, three, or even more layers of packaging that we open and discard to get to our favorite munchies (I prefer scooby-doo-fruit-snacks), we have allowed, and in some cases even encouraged, the destruction, consumption, and poisoning of any and everything that we can, as long as it makes us more comfortable and/or more money.
A standard incandescent light bulb produces approximately 10 times more heat than light. Consider that. To get the power into our homes in the first place, what went into it? For starters we can assume that a small portion of ecosystem was completely destroyed in the process of making room for and building a power station of some sort. Maybe a river was damned (spelling intentional). Maybe a few acres of forest were destroyed to make room for a coal burning power plant. But then you have to assume that the coal itself was strip mined, or in some other way extracted from the earth in a less-than-forgiving way.
It took carbon dioxide (CO2) producing machinery and 'technology' to extract it. It took CO2 producing machinery to process it. To move it. Then it is burned, which produces MASSIVE amounts of wasted heat and by-products (including, but not limited to CO2), all before it gets to this little light bulb, where ultimately more than 90 percent of the energy used to give us light is wasted. WASTED.
From solid waste, to power production, to untreated sewage being released into rivers, lakes, and oceans (because our systems combine waste water and rain water runoff, making water treatment plants overwhelmed when it rains too much), to the over salinization and erosion of top soil (due to unethical agricultural practices bent toward maximizing short term production and profits at the expense of long term sustainability), we are WASTING our home. Our planet. We are wasting our potential, and we are gambling the long term sustainability of our entire existence against quarterly profit projections and maximum short term returns on investments.
The next time you tell yourself, or someone else, that you "cherish your children's future" (or some other hollow rhetoric), take a look outside and tell me what you see. Do you see a peaceful coexistence between human beings and the rest of Nature? Do you see the 'stewardship of all things', as described in almost all major religions on Earth? Do you see a long term, sustainable pattern of life? Perhaps we should educate ourselves on the definition of 'finite'. There is only so much air. Only so much water (especially fresh water, which makes up less than 5 percent of all water on Earth). Only so many trees. As long as we CHOOSE to consume and waste more than we can restore or put back, it is a loosing equation. Given a long enough time line it becomes not a matter of 'if', but of 'when?'.We are the only species on this planet whose decisions and way of life can impact every other living thing on this planet. With great power, comes great responsibility. Unfortunately, for now, it seems our species is better defined by this: "Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely".

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I Want to be a Hell Spawned Demon When I Grow Up

I watched Silent Hill last night for the 5th time. I don’t know what it is that compels me to see that movie, over and over. Starz has been playing it for about a week, now and I have been fortunate enough catch most of the showings.

I rented it last summer when it was first released on DVD and watched it twice before I had to take it back. I wanted to view a good scary movie with the lights off and this one was recommended. I didn’t think it was scary, however it was eerie. I thoroughly enjoyed the ending scene.

This movie was poorly done with mediocre actors. It is based on a Playstation game and it altered the game story considerably. Fortunately for me, I never played the game or I may not have enjoyed it as much. There are many flaws in the movie, including the story line, yet I continue to watch it. You may think no big deal, but anyone who knows me also knows I demand perfection when watching a movie of any kind. One mistake and I dismiss the entire pic. Which is why I predominately watch animated features.

So why do I so enjoy this movie? I am puzzled. Is it the element of revenge? Is it the fact that pure evil actually wins in the end? I know it wasn’t the acting, although young Jodelle Ferland did a great job. The special effects weren’t that special either. There was a lot that went unexplained and unquestioned. But, I still loved it and I will always watch it again.
Silent Hill is my number one feel good movie of the year.
On the exact opposite end of the spectrum would be "The Black Dahlia".
"Worst Movie Ever" to quote an overweight Simpsons character. A complete waste of 2 hours and 2 minutes of my life. The only way I would ever enjoy that movie would be if I was Josh
Hartnet and I got to make out with Scarlett Johannsen and Hillary Swank. Yeah, that'll happen.
Brian De Palma, WTF? You altered the actual story from what really happened, you altered the novel and you completely F**ked up everything. Even the soundtrack smelled. There were only 2 good things about the entire film and Scarlett Johannsen owns them both.
The Black Dahlia DVD is only good for a paintball target.